NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Get ready for noise inside and outside of Bridgestone Arena tonight as the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins play Game Three of the Stanley Cup final. Faceoff is around 8:20 Eastern time and the game is on NBC Sports Network (the rest of the series shifts back to NBC, starting with Game Four here Monday night.
The atmosphere is the talk of the town: There could be as many as 30,000 people jammed into the downtown core -- outside the building -- to watch the game on big screens. About two hours before faceoff, there's a free concert by Country Music Hall of Famer Alan Jackson.
The Penguins lead the series, two games to none, and another Pittsburgh win tonight almost certainly means we'll have our first repeat Cup champion since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. But Nashville is 7-1 at home in these playoffs.
Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:
Nashville goalie question: Coach Peter Laviolette was asked yet again if struggling goaltender Pekka Rinne was starting tonight and said simply, "Next question." Rinne, for the record, was in the starter's net and was the first goalie off the ice this morning. He's almost certainly taking his 4.71 goals-against average and .778 save percentage in the first two games back to the crease tonight.
Preds lineup: Nashville needs more speed to counter the Penguins so it appears Laviolette is going to insert veteran P.A. Parenteau and Harry Zolnierczyk into the lineup in place of overmatched pluggers Cody McLeod and Vernon Fiddler. Parenteau confirmed to reporters he is playing.
Pens lineup: Nick Bonino took a P.K. Subban howitzer to the ankle in Game Two and was seen here Friday in a walking boot. It's likely Carl Hagelin is going back in the lineup after being a scratch the first two games. Hagelin has just one goal in 11 playoff games this year.
"He'll bring what he always brings to our team," Pens coach Mike Sullivan said today. "He's got tons of speed, he's a real good penalty killer. He forces turnovers all over the ice because of his speed and puck pursuit. He's been a big part of this team, helped us win a lot of games."
How do the Preds avoid the hometown hype? Said captain Mike Fisher, in a reference to one of the institutional downtown honky tonks: "I'll stay away from downtown for sure. I won't be going to Tootsie's or anything."
Added Parenteau, a former Montreal Canadien, of the Bridgestone crazies: "I played in the Bell Centre in the playoffs and this is crazy."
Pens winger Chris Kunitz said Friday his team has to play the "dullest road game ever" to try to quiet the crowd. Sullivan's response?
"You have to play the game the right way. I don't know if that's dull or exciting," the coach said. "The way I look at it, I don't know if we have a game plan for home and a game plan for road. We put a game plan together we think plays to the strength of this group."
Quality shots: The Predators have outshot Pittsburgh, 64-39, in the two games but have nothing to show for it. Oddly enough, less is more for the Pens as they are 6-1 in the playoffs when outshot by 10 or more.